…Says ‘No Senator tested positive to Coronavirus’- Senate
*Asks FG to release Special Intervention Fund to States
By Ignatius Okorocha
Alarmed at the increasing cases of Coronavirus spread in parts of the country, two chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday shut down all activities at the parliament for two weeks to resume plenary On April 7,2020.
This was as the upper chamber has asked the Federal government to provide special intervention fund to the 36 states of federation as financial assistance to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The declaration to adjourn plenary and other activities of the apex legislature was announced by the President of the Senate,Senator Ahmad Lawan shortly after about an hour closed door session of the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Lawan, while giving details into what transpired during the closed door session, said lawmakers unanimously agreed that the National Assembly adjourn plenary for a period of two weeks due to the Coronavirus pandemic which has led to most countries shutting down activities so as to curtail the spread of the disease.
He, however, emphasized that the Senate will reconvene to attend to matters of national importance which require urgent legislative intervention within the period the National Assembly will be on recess.
“The Senate in particular, and the National Assembly in general, further resolved to adjourn sitting for two weeks from today, due to the pandemic of Coronavirus ravaging the entire world and the entire world, and therefore, the Senate resumes on the 7th of April.
“However, the Senate will be on hand in case of emergency in any national issue that requires its attention,” Lawan said.
The Senate President further advised Nigerians to observe all preventive measures recommended by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
While calling on the Federal Government to immediately set aside a Special Intervention Fund to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Senate President advocated for the release of financial assistance to states for the same purpose.
“As at now, the only way out of the pandemic is for the population to observe recommended measures/advices by the National Centre or Disease Control (NCDC).
“The Federal Government should devote special funds to fight the COVID-19 virus threatening Nigeria.
“Also, the Federal Government should give financial and other resource assistance to the states in the fight against the virus,” he said.
Lawan added that, “the Senate Committee on Health and Private Healthcare and Communicable diseases will continue to engage the Federal Ministry of Health and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
Also spokesman of the Senate,Senator Godiya Akwashiki ( Nasarawa North) while fielding questions from journalists noted that the closure became inevitable to ensure that all Senators are in self isolation as a simple way of checking the the spread of the virus pandemic in the parliament.
“We all agreed that the leadership of the Senate should be on ground to for any emergency from the Executive arm of government and all Senator should be at alert,” he said.
According to him part of the reason for shutting down National Assembly is to fumigate/ sanitize the entire complex to make e environment conducive for lawmakers, staff and all those who have one engagement or the other in the premises.
On lawmakers who were alleged to have teased positive after their recent foreign trips, Akwashiki debunked such insinuation as false, saying “No Senator tested positive to Coronavirus”.
Also shedding light on the collaboration of Senate with the Health ministry, chairman Senate committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe( Kwara Central), said,”At the moment in the country, we don’t have enough testing kits. What we had in the past was 1000 kits but it has being improved to 10000 kits.
“The mode of conducting the test should be on two weeks interval. The NCDC has acquired new testing kits .
“So far, there are no special appropriation for the covid -19 pandemic. The money released so fat was the N320 million for the Lassa fever and N620m for covid-19,” he added.